Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
If you've read my old entries you'll find that I travel quite a bit. I don't do travel-in-style because I prefer backpacking more. It's a lot cheaper, makes more sense (why should I pay top money for a nice 4-star hotel room when the only time I'll be in it is to sleep at night?) and it's a lot cheaper. Enough reasons for me ;)
Anyway, I have received some messages and e-mails asking me for tips on backpacking (watch out Ian Wright!), so here's some of the stuff I have advised people before, based on my own experience:
1. Make sure you have enough money. My rule of thumb is budget for USD100 per day, that is inclusive of room, food, transport etc. If you are backpacking around SEA, chances are you won't exceed that amount (unless you shop).
2. Keep your valuables with you at all times. This includes your passport, wallet, money, phone, camera and laptop if you are foolish enough to bring one. Might sound like something everyone knows, but it's a fact a lot of people take for granted.
3. Do not expect the locals to speak your language/english. Unless if you are travelling to a country whose mother tongue is your own/english that is. I have a very basic grasp of French which really helped while I was in Paris, but we struggled a bit in Italy and Spain due to the language barrier. A phrasebook (or even a printed page of basic phrases) will help a lot.
4. In countries that does not use the common alphabet (Roman is it?), you might want to ask someone at the hotel or airport to write down your hotel's address and embassy's address so that you can show it to anyone in case of trouble, or just to let the cab drivers know where exactly you want to go. Try pronouncing Thai/Khmer/Vietnamese words, and you'll fail most of the time, I'll bet on that.
5. Be open to changes in your itinerary. Be flexible, rigidness will only hinder the unexpected element of travelling. Try something new (like those deep fried bugs, which were surprisingly yummy!), do something different (some 'cakes' in Amsterdam anyone?). It makes the experience more fun and memorable!
6. Be prepared for the hangover. This only happens if it was an excellent trip. Places where you know you'll be back again sometime wil tug at your mind when you're back at work and trying to remember how it felt back in Venice/London/Bangkok/etc.
These are just the very basics, but I feel the main thing about backpacking is just to go and explore the place yourself. Good luck!